Umineko no Naku Koro ni (うみねこのなく頃に?, lit. When the Seagulls Cry) is a Japanese murder mystery dōjin soft visual novel series produced by 07th Expansion. The first game in the series, Legend of the Golden Witch, was first released at Comiket 72 on August 17, 2007 playable on the PC; the game sold out in thirty minutes. The story focuses on a group of eighteen people on a secluded island for a period of two days, and the mysterious murders that befall most of the people. The goal of the game is to discern whether the murderer is human or of some other supernatural source. Umineko is the third title in the When They Cry series, preceded by Higurashi no Naku Koro ni and Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai, and followed by Umineko no Naku Koro ni Chiru.
Square Enix, Ichijinsha, Kadokawa Shoten, and ASCII Media Works all published various manga adaptations of the series. It was also turned into a 26-episode anime by Studio Deen, which aired in Japan between July and December 2009. A series of novels written by Ryukishi07 are published by Kodansha Box. A fighting game based on the franchise will be released by 07th Expansion in December 2010. The word umineko is the name of a kind of seagull known as a Black-tailed Gull. Naku means "to cry" or "to make a sound" (鳴く?), referring only to sounds made by non-humans when written with that kanji; no kanji is provided in the series logo however. According to the original creator, Ryukishi07, the red Na (な) in the logo is an official part of the title.
Umineko no Naku Koro ni is a murder mystery game described as a "sound novel" by 07th Expansion. A sound novel is similar to a visual novel, though the gameplay requires no player interaction as the game is composed entirely of text dialogues. While a visual novel's basis would be the visual aspect, as the name suggests, a sound novel's basis takes more care in producing an atmosphere via the music, sound effects, and the story itself. As such, the original Umineko games have a simple-looking art style, which stays consistent over the course of the series' releases. The original releases contain no voice acting for the characters.
While during gameplay, the Tips Mode can be viewed via the game's internal menu, which also includes save and load functions. These tips allow the player to read various supplementary information on the characters and story that may or may not be useful in solving the mystery. These are updated according to the progression of the story, so it is recommended to view the tips every once in a while. The ultimate goals of the gameplay involve solving the multi-cased mystery, determining where the gold is hidden, figuring out a solution in which ultimately everyone survives, and to solve the whole case by determining who the true murderer is in each chapter and whether it is due to supernatural events or human actions. An in-game feature from Turn of the Golden Witch onward known as "red truth" states something to be true in red text, offering clues to the reader to both create theories as well as to break them. In contrast is "blue truth" from Alliance of the Golden Witch onward, which is used to bring up theories on what is truly going on while abiding by the red truth, and has the possibility to become true if not countered by red truth. There is also "golden truth" introduced in End of the Golden Witch which can only be used by the Game Master and, depending on how it used, can be either inferior or superior to the red truth.
When an episode is completed for the first time, an additional short epilogue called "Tea Party" becomes available to play, offering crucial plot points that advance the overall progression of the story. When that scenario is completed, a second epilogue called "????" also becomes available to advance the story. After all the scenarios in a given game copy have been completed, a Music Box section becomes available on the title menu, enabling the player to listen to any of the music used throughout the game.
Plot and characters
Umineko no Naku Koro ni takes place primarily in the year 1986, during the time frame of October 4 and October 5 on a small, secluded island named Rokkenjima (六軒島?) 10 km around owned and lived on by Kinzo, the head of the wealthy Ushiromiya family. Kinzo is near death, and eight of his family members arrive on the island for the annual family conference, where the adults plan to discuss how Kinzo's assets will be divided once he is dead. Also on the island are three family members who live there, five of Kinzo's servants, and his personal physician. After the eight family members arrive, a typhoon traps them on the island, and shortly after, strange things start to happen and people start dying.
The main character of the story is Battler Ushiromiya, son of Kinzo's second son Rudolf. Battler has not been to the annual Ushiromiya conference in six years due to living with his maternal grandparents ever since his mother Asumu died, and even took his mother's maiden name instead of Ushiromiya. When his grandparents died, he went back to living with his father, his second wife Kyrie, and their daughter Ange, his half-sister. Once on the island, Battler once again becomes acquainted with the legend of the golden witch Beatrice who supposedly lives in the naturally dense forest on Rokkenjima. A portrait of her lies in the entrance hall of the Ushiromiya family mansion, and a puzzling epitaph is written below the portrait. Rumor has it on the island that Beatrice gave ten tons of gold to Kinzo in the past to restart the Ushiromiya family after being crippled in the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake. It is said that whoever solves the riddle of the witch's epitaph will receive the gold and be the next successor to the Ushiromiya family.
Once the typhoon hits, a ghastly game begins, starting with the murder of six people on the island. If the witch's epitaph cannot be solved, people will continue to die in mysterious deaths, following the outline given by the epitaph itself, until the witch Beatrice ultimately revives. After this comes to pass, Battler is the only one left alive who does not believe in witches or magic, and as such the door to the "golden land" (as stipulated on the epitaph) cannot be opened. Beatrice takes Battler and herself to a parallel dimension, Purgatorio, which is able to oversee events on Rokkenjima. From this point on, Battler and Beatrice are locked in a game of twisted logic where Battler must attempt to explain all of the mysterious events on Rokkenjima from the standpoint that they are caused by a human, and Beatrice attempts to explain everything with witches and magic. One of the recurring motifs is use of the locked room mystery, and several logical arguments are presented to explain the mysteries including the devil's proof, the raven paradox, and Schrödinger's cat. If Beatrice can get Battler to ultimately surrender and accept witches and magic, Beatrice wins.
Umineko no Naku Koro ni
The Umineko no Naku Koro ni (うみねこのなく頃に?, lit. When the Seagulls Cry) games are the first four games in the series which are meant to give the player a sense of the world where the story takes place and introduce the mysterious circumstances surrounding Rokkenjima and the legend of the Golden Witch. Each arc in this series contains all the previous arcs.
- Episode 1: Legend of the Golden Witch
- This chapter introduces the player to the main setting of Umineko no Naku Koro ni as the Ushiromiya family gather on the island of Rokkenjima for their annual family conference. The player is familiarized with the island's 18 residents (consisting of the Ushiromiya family and servants) as well as the legend of the Golden Witch, Beatrice, who is implied to exist on the island as a 19th resident and murder the other residents in mysterious ways. The story is narrated mainly by Battler and presents the series' first "bad end", with all the residents either killed or labeled as "missing".
- Episode 2: Turn of the Golden Witch
- Following the events of the first chapter, this chapter features the first battle between Battler and Beatrice as they oversee the events on Rokkenjima from the "meta-world". The family conference occurs as usual, only this time Beatrice exists on the island as its 19th resident, introducing multiple magical elements to the story. Other major themes involve the relationships between George and Shannon, Jessica and Kanon, and Maria and Rosa. This chapter is told from the perspective of multiple characters, including an omniscient narrator.
- Episode 3: Banquet of the Golden Witch
- Unlike the first two chapters, this chapter features the residents attempting to solve the riddle of Beatrice's epitaph rather than determine the true identity of the murderer. Eva succeeds in this task, but is shown to continue carrying out the murders as the new "Beatrice". Meanwhile, in the meta-world, Beatrice is assisted by her demon servants, while Battler finds a mysterious new ally of his own. This chapter sheds more light on Eva and Beatrice's pasts, and is the first to feature one of the island's residents surviving the murders.
- Episode 4: Alliance of the Golden Witch
- This chapter features Battler's sister Ange and her life twelve years after the murders on Rokkenjima. The story constantly shifts focus between 1986 (the time of the murders) and 1998 (Ange's time period), shedding more background information on the characters and light on the methods behind the murders. This chapter heavily implies the existence of magic and puts all of the theories Battler formulates against Beatrice thus far to the test.
Umineko no Naku Koro ni Chiru
The Umineko no Naku Koro ni Chiru (うみねこのなく頃に散?, lit. When the Seagulls Cry Breakdown) games tell the second half of the story and start to delve into the core of the mystery. These games are not simply solutions to the first four arcs, but also continue the story, shifting it into new terrain. However, as the core of the series is approached, several clues to the first four arcs are revealed along the way. Each arc in this series contains all of the previous Chiru arcs.
- Episode 5: End of the Golden Witch
- A new perspective on the mystery of the Golden Witch is presented in this chapter, with the witches Bernkastel and Lambdadelta playing a more prominent role. The main characters of this story are Kinzo, Natsuhi, and a new character, Erika, who approaches the murders from a "mystery" perspective, unlike Battler who had taken an "anti-fantasy" stance. This time the game is suspended before its conclusion, so the fate of most people on the island is unknown.
- Episode 6: Dawn of the Golden Witch
- Following the events of the previous game with the introduction of a new Game Master, this chapter does not delve into the solution of the mystery so much as it displays the Game Master's understanding of it, though it does provide important clues linked to the main suspects. George, Jessica, Shannon, and Kanon play a prominent role in the story, as does a childlike reborn Beatrice who struggles to regain her former personality for Battler's sake. Again, the game is suspended before its conclusion.
- Episode 7: Requiem of the Golden Witch
- This chapter presents an alternate reality where Battler does not come to Rokkenjima, the Golden Witch does not exist. The mystery child from nineteen years ago becomes the heir of the Ushiromiya family. This story is told through the perspective of a new character, Willard H. Wright, who uncovers several truths behind the legend of the Golden Witch including Beatrice's true identity. While no deaths occur in the game itself, the Tea Party features a scenario showing how the murders may have played out from a non-magical standpoint.
- Episode 8: Twilight of the Golden Witch
Umineko no Naku Koro ni Tsubasa
Alongside the main series, Ryukishi07 has also written some extra tips outside of the games. Some more serious ones may be considered canon, but the rest should not be taken too seriously. All these are to be released on December 31, 2010 as a sound novel compilation called Umineko no Naku Koro ni Tsubasa (うみねこのなく頃に翼?, lit. When the Seagulls Cry Wings) alongside the eighth game, Twilight of the Golden Witch.
- Lambda's Diary
- This TIP talks about Lambdadelta, and her history of granting wishes.
- Bern's Letter
- This TIP is a letter that Bernkastel wrote to the player, which contains her musings and speculations on the rules XYZ in Umineko. It ends with a couple of poems, one written by Ronove, and one written by Frederica Bernkastel.
- Anti-Mystery vs. Anti-Fantasy
- This TIP explains and speculates the concepts of anti-mystery and anti-fantasy in full detail.
- The Seven Sisters' Valentine
- This TIP is a humorous story about Ronove making chocolate, albeit primarily for Beatrice, and giving one each to the Stakes of Purgatory. He then sends them to give the chocolates to the figures that are foremost in their hearts.
- Why Are Closed Room Murders So Beautiful?
- The Story of Coffee
- Notes From a Certain Cook
- This TIP talks about Gohda's past. This TIP shows that red circles appear before the murders have even started.
- Beatrice's White Day
- This is the sequel to The Seven Sisters' Valentine, in which the Stakes receive presents from the persons they gave their chocolate to. Beatrice, however, who had run afoul of Battler on Valentine's Day after a botched attempt at giving him chocolate, attempts to cope with not getting a present herself.
- The Witches' Tanabata
- This TIP is about Beatrice granting a wish for Maria, and Bernkastel granting a wish for Ange. The latter event shows Bernkastel as a cruel, ruthless witch.
- Arigato For 556
Umineko no Naku Koro ni is the second visual novel series produced by 07th Expansion, the first being Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. The scenario writer for the series is Ryukishi07, who also drew all of the character illustrations. Game direction was handled by Ryukishi07's younger brother Yatazakura, and the overall management of the series was handled by BT until his death in July 2009. Image and text processing was headed by Jika, who took over BT's position of overall management. Background images and photography were provided by Yatazakura, Zekozakura, Mali., and All Season Kisetsu no Irodori. The games were designed using the game engine NScripter. The music of Umineko was provided by various music artists including both professionals and dōjin artists, and Dai, the composer of most of the music found in the answer arcs of Higurashi, also had a hand in the project as the music director.
The first game of the Umineko no Naku Koro ni visual novel series, entitled Legend of the Golden Witch, was first released on August 17, 2007 at Comiket 72. The second game Turn of the Golden Witch was released on December 31, 2007 at Comiket 73, and the third game Banquet of the Golden Witch was released on August 16, 2008 at Comiket 74. The fourth game Alliance of the Golden Witch was released on December 29, 2008 at Comiket 75. The first game in the Umineko no Naku Koro ni Chiru series, entitled End of the Golden Witch, was first released on August 15, 2009 at Comiket 76. The sixth game Dawn of the Golden Witch was released on December 30, 2009 at Comiket 77. The seventh game Requiem of the Golden Witch was released at Comiket 78 on August 14, 2010. The eighth game Twilight of the Golden Witch will be released at Comiket 79 on December 31, 2010. A fan disc titled Umineko no Naku Koro ni Tsubasa will be released the same day as Twilight.
Taito released a version of Legend of the Golden Witch playable on certain mobile phones on March 31, 2009. The game is playable on FOMA 900 and i703 phones, using BREW as a runtime environment.
A console port for the PlayStation 3 was released as Umineko no Naku Koro ni: Majo to Suiri no Rondo (うみねこのなく頃に ～魔女と推理の輪舞曲～?, lit. When the Seagulls Cry: The Rondo of the Witch and Deduction) by Alchemist on December 16, 2010. Its features include a full HD rendition, all of the original soundtracks from the PC games, and full voice acting featuring the voice actors from the anime series. This release covers the original story from Legend of the Golden Witch to Alliance of the Golden Witch. Also, a dōjin 2D fighting game produced by 07th Expansion titled Ōgon Musōkyoku (黄金夢想曲?, lit. Golden Dream Symphony) will be released on December 31, 2010 at Comiket 79.
A manga version of Legend of the Golden Witch drawn by Kei Natsumi began serializtion in the January 2008 issue of Square Enix's Gangan Powered, which was later transferred to the debut May 2009 issue of Gangan Joker after Gangan Powered was discontinued, and continued until the September 2009 issue. An adaptation of Turn of the Golden Witch drawn by Jirō Suzuki began serialization in the August 2008 issue of Square Enix's GFantasy. The manga adaptation of Banquet of the Golden Witch began serialization in the October 2009 issue of Gangan Joker and is illustrated by Kei Natsumi. Sōichirō draws the adaptation of Alliance of the Golden Witch, which began serialization in Square Enix's Internet-based magazine Gangan Online on October 1, 2009. The first bound volume for Legend of the Golden Witch was released in Japan on June 21, 2008 under Square Enix's Gangan Comics imprint. A four-panel comic strip entitled Umineko Biyori: Rokkenjima e Yōkoso!! (うみねこびより。～六軒島へようこそ!!～?) and illustrated by Makoto Fugetsu was serialized in Ichijinsha's Manga Palette Lite magazine between March 1, 2008 and March 2, 2009. A single bound volume for Umineko Biyori was released on June 22, 2009.
Another manga, Umineko Dōri no Peru-san (うみねこ通りのペルさん?), is illustrated by Satoshi Shinkyo and was serialized between the November 2008 and May 2009 issues of Kadokawa Shoten's Comp Ace magazine. A cross-over manga drawn by Yuki Hiiro and featuring characters from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni entitled Umineko no Naku Koro ni EpisodeX Rokkenjima of Higurashi crying began serialization in ASCII Media Works's Dengeki G's Festival! Comic magazine on January 26, 2009. The first volume of EpisodeX was released on February 26, 2010 under ASCII Media Works' Dengeki Comics imprint.
Frontier Works began to produce a set of drama CDs for Umineko starting with the first volume Ōgon no Kakeratachi (黄金のカケラたち?, lit. Golden Fragments) released on June 24, 2009. The second volume, Ōgon Chō no Miru Yume wa (黄金蝶の見る夢は?, lit. The Dream Seen by the Golden Butterfly) followed on July 23, 2009. The voice cast is the same as the anime.
Kodansha Box began releasing novelizations of the visual novel arcs in two volume sets, beginning with Legend of the Golden Witch released on July 1, 2009 for volume one and August 4, 2009 for volume two. The two volumes of Turn of the Golden Witch were released in November and December 2009. The novels are written by Ryukishi07. Novelizations of the other arcs will also be produced.
A 26-episode anime adaptation based on the visual novel series aired in Japan between July 2 and December 24, 2009 on Chiba TV, and aired on additional stations at later times. The anime is produced by the animation studio Studio Deen and directed by Chiaki Kon. The opening theme of the anime is "Katayoku no Tori" (片翼の鳥?, lit. "One-Winged Bird") by Akiko Shikata, and the ending theme is "La Divina Tragedia: Makyoku" (la divina tragedia～魔曲～?, lit. "The Divine Tragedy: Diabolic Song") by Jimang from Sound Horizon. The singles for both songs were released on August 19 and September 16, 2009, respectively.
Internet radio show
An Internet radio show titled Umineko no Naku Koro ni Episode R: Radio of the Golden Witch aired ten episodes between August 26, 2009 and January 13, 2010. Produced by Animate TV, the show was hosted by Sayaka Ohara (the voice of Beatrice in the anime adaptation) and featured numerous guests who were also voice actors from the anime such as Daisuke Ono (Battler) and Marina Inoue (Jessica). A special episode was later aired on April 28, 2010 featuring Rina Satō (Ange) and Ryukishi07 as guests. Two CD compilation volumes containing two CDs each were released on December 23, 2009 and January 27, 2010 compiling the ten main episodes.
The visual novels have three opening theme songs. The four games of Umineko no Naku Koro ni used the opening theme "Umineko no Naku Koro ni" (うみねこのなく頃に?, "When the Seagulls Cry"), composed and performed by Akiko Shikata, which was released at Comiket 74 on August 15, 2008, and for public release on August 29, 2008 by Frontier Works. The first two games of Umineko no Naku Koro ni Chiru (End and Dawn) use the opening theme "Occultics no Majo" (オカルティクスの魔女 Okarutikusu no Majo?, "Occultics Witch") sung by Ayumu from Zwei. The single for "Occultics no Majo" was released on November 26, 2009 by Geneon. The third Chiru game (Requiem) uses the opening theme "Kiri no Pithos" (霧のピトス Kiri no Pitosu?, "The Pithos in the Fog") sung by Nei Kino.
At the end of each game, there are two ending themes: one played after the completion of the main game when the cast of characters is shown and another played after finishing the "????" epilogue when the staff credits are shown. In Legend of the Golden Witch, "Bring the Fate" composed by Hironori Dori is the first ending theme and "Rōgoku Strip" (牢獄STRIP Prison Strip?) composed by -45 is used for the staff credits. Turn uses "Kuro no Liliana" (黒のリリアナ Black Liliana?) composed by Uni Akiyama for the first ending theme and "Senritsu (Shirabe)" (旋律（シラベ） Melody (Shirabe)?) sung by Kazumi Kimura for the staff credits. The first ending theme of Banquet is "Dread of the Grave (Rhythm ver.)" composed by SB Yune and the staff credits theme is "Active Pain" performed by Zakuro Motoki. The first ending theme for Alliance is "Discode" sung by Kanae Sakura and "Rōgoku Strip" is again used for the staff credits. End's first ending theme is "Kodoku na Shinkaigyo" (孤独な深海魚 A Lonely Deep-Sea Fish?) composed by -45 and the staff credits theme is "Tsubasa (Hope)" (翼～hope～?, "Wings (Hope)") performed by Rekka Katakiri. Dawn uses "Birth of New Witch" sung by Zakuro Motoki as the first ending theme and "Usan no Kaori" (ウサンノカオリ?) sung by Nei Kino for the staff credits. The first ending theme for Requiem is "The Executioner" composed by ZTS and the staff credits theme "Namae no Nai Uta" (なまえのないうた?) is sung by Kanae Sakura.
An original soundtrack for Legend of the Golden Witch entitled Essence was released on August 26, 2009.
- ↑ "Sequel to Higurashi PC Game Debuts at Comic Market 72". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2007-08-20.
- ↑ "Gulls, Terns, Puffins and other Gull-like birds". Personal Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 2008-06-23.
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- Visual novel official website (Japanese)
- Umineko no Naku Koro ni: Majo to Suiri no Rondo official website (Japanese)
- Anime official website (Japanese)
- Witch Hunt Translation Project
- Ōgon Musōkyoku official website (Japanese)
- Umineko no Naku Koro ni (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia